Simmons Brings Winning Reputation to Lady Barons
MOUNT VERNON -- Sheila Simmons has been named women's basketball coach at Brewton-Parker College and assistant athletic director, Brewton-Parker athletic director and men's basketball coach Steve Barker has announced.
Simmons, who in three years as coach of the Brevard College (N.C.) women's basketball team turned the Lady Tornados into a perennial league contender, takes over a Lady Barons program that won 20 games three straight seasons and made two NAIA Division I National Tournament appearances in four years under Tommy Dalley.
"I really like the direction Dr. David Smith (Brewton-Parker's president) has the athletic program going," Simmons said of her attraction to the Lady Barons position. "Plus, we are in a really good conference and the college has a good, Christian-oriented community."
Last season at Brevard, Simmons led the Lady Tornados to a 21-12 record and a runner-up finish in the Appalachian Athletic Conference postseason tournament. That season followed a 2001-02 campaign in which Simmons led her team to its first ever AAC regular-season championship and its first NAIA Division II National Tournament appearance with a 26-7 record.
"Sheila took a down-trodden program to nationals in just her second year and we feel she is capable of carrying on the tradition that Tommy started," Barker said. "She is very connected in recruiting opportunities and I think she will do very well."
In her first season at Brevard, Simmons took over a program that had only won three games the year before to a 20-12 record with a fourth place finish in the conference.
"I give credit to the will of the kids," Simmons said of her team's first-season turnaround. "They weren't necessarily the best skilled players but they had the will and the want to win, and that makes things easy for the coach. Then we complemented them with a good group of recruits that helped them to the next level."
Simmons also maintained a 100 percent graduation and retention rate while at Brevard, and she did likewise as academic coordinator while an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky University for nearly seven years.
"Academics is my number one priority, not just to have the students graduate but to maintain excellence in their academic work," Simmons said. "In recruiting student-athletes, I would bring in kids whose priority was academics and to keep them for four years."
While Simmons was at Eastern Kentucky, the Lady Colonels also won three Ohio Valley Conference titles and made a National Tournament Appearance in 1997. Before coaching at EKU, Simmons was a graduate assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of Montevallo (Ala.), which went to the NAIA Final Four in 1993.
Simmons is a native of Goodwater, Ala. She holds a master of education degree and a bachelor of science degree in physical education from Montevallo.
She looks forward to the challenge of continuing to build a program that set a school record for victories in going 24-9 and making its second NAIA Division I National Tournament appearance in three seasons.
"The returning group stayed intact pretty well, but I will bring in a few other new players," she said. "Obviously there is going to be some transition, but it will be a new start for all of us and we will move forward."